Death of a Drunkard

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter I (6) | Start of Chapter

We had proceeded some eight days, when the widow's son, who had been in the navy, and had lost his health by his excesses, gave sad proof that

"A soldier's arms,

Through the vanity and brainless rage

Of those that bear them, in whatever cause,

Seem most at variance with all moral good."

He was, at all hours of the night, either at the door of his mother and sister, demanding gin, or roving about the cabin with reddened eyes, declaring that his frenzied brain would make him mad. Sometimes he appeared suddenly in our midst, almost in a state of nudity, on deck, or at table; till, like a maniac as he was, nothing but coercion could restrain him, and he died on a bright Sabbath morning while we were at breakfast; and before the sun had gone down upon the ship, the unfortunate young man was plunged beneath the waves. The mother and sister sat at a distance, while the prayer and burial went on, tearlessly viewing the last office for the dead, when, turning away, a low murmur from the mother was heard, "Ah! I could not save him."

Ireland’s Welome to the Stranger is one of the best accounts of Irish social conditions, customs, quirks and habits that you could wish for. The author, Mrs Asenath Nicholson, was an American widow who travelled extensively in Ireland on the eve of the Great Famine and meticulously observed the Irish peasantry at work and play, as well as noting their living conditions and diet. The book is also available from Kindle.